Friday 10 July 2020

08 March 2019

Boost for the East Midlands as Minister pledges government support for Eastern Leg of HS2

  • Minister Nusrat Ghani states; “let no-one doubt my department’s full commitment to the entire project”
  • During National Apprenticeships Week, HS2 chair Allan Cook reinforces positive impact of apprenticeship opportunities
  • 250 apprentices are already working on HS2, with 2,000 apprenticeships to be created over the project’s lifetime
  • East Midlands Councils’ Andrew Pritchard outlines the route’s scope to link world-leading advanced manufacturing clusters 

Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani has reinforced Government’s commitment to delivering HS2 in its entirety. Speaking at an event in Westminster hosted by Turner & Townsend on behalf of HS2 East, a partnership representing towns and cities along the eastern leg of the Phase 2b route, Ms Ghani stated “let no one doubt my department’s full commitment to the entire project.”

Highlighting the far-reaching benefits of this once-in-a-lifetime transport investment, she was also joined by HS2 chair Allan Cook and Lord Kerslake, former head of the Civil Service, as well as speakers from organisations across the Midlands and the North.

The eastern leg of HS2 is a high speed connection between Birmingham, Toton in the East Midlands, Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle, and will improve journey times up to Scotland. These collective destinations have a combined population of 15 million people and already contribute over £320billion a year to the UK economy. 

HS2’s construction also comes hand in hand with swathes of development and regeneration, including the creation of a state-of-the-art innovation campus at Toton, as well as plans to double the size of Leeds city centre, transforming the area around the city’s new HS2 station.

This week, a £2million government fund to establish a locally-led East Midlands Development Corporation was signed off, to maximise and accelerate development opportunities and strategic transport connectivity around the HS2 East Midlands Hub station at Toton and across the region, bringing forward tens of thousands of new jobs and thousands of homes. 

Nusrat Ghani, Undersecretary of State for Transport, said: 

“We need to shout the benefits of HS2. This is a railway that will have a profoundly positive impact on the cities and towns along the length of the Eastern Leg for generations to come.

“It is the defining infrastructure project of a generation – one that can transform and rebalance our entire economy and provide a major boost to places like Newcastle, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield. HS2 is happening and we will continue to work with regional partners to ensure we smash the North/South divide.”

HS2 is currently underway with more than 7,000 people, and 2,000 businesses working on its design and construction. The project is a key part of the government’s Industrial Strategy, which aims to deliver economic growth right across the country through investment in skills, industries and infrastructure.

Allan Cook, Chair of HS2 Ltd, said:

“HS2 is not just a transport project, it’s a UK-wide regeneration programme that will transform towns and cities across the Midlands and the North. We’re talking about decades worth of investment and benefits that will be felt for generations. Stopping short is not an option – we must, and will, deliver HS2 in its entirety.”

“Both HS2 Ltd’s CEO Mark Thurston and I started our careers as apprentices, and it is our job to ensure these same opportunities are passed on to the young people of this country. Over 250 apprentices are already working on HS2 and over the project’s lifetime this figure will reach 2,000. Our legacy will be a mobilised, skilled workforce, empowered businesses and supercharged economic growth.” 

Andrew Pritchard from HS2 East, East Midlands Councils and Midlands Connect said:

“The Eastern Leg of HS2 will create a new, ‘virtual conurbation’ combining the economic muscle of our towns and cities to allow businesses to compete on the world stage. The route is already home to a number of internationally-leading organisations such as JCB, Rolls Royce, Siemens and Bombardier. Linking our advanced manufacturing experts by high speed rail will foster increased productivity, innovation and economic growth. 

“Rail patronage is at an all-time high; to meet demand and create capacity for future growth there is only one solution, HS2. By freeing up space on the rest of the network we can improve local rail services and increase the use of rail freight, shifting traffic from the roads to the railways. We mustn’t forget that over 60 per cent of Phase Two’s economic benefits come from the Eastern Leg, its delivery is not an added extra but essential.”

Lord Kerslake, former Head of the Civil Service and Chair of the UK2070 Commission said: 

“The scale of economic inequalities we face in this country is staggering. Although London is the richest region in Northern Europe, the UK is also home to six of the ten poorest regions in this same geography. The truth is that these disparities are widening, and without HS2 our regions will not have the means to make the most of the economic opportunities available to them. We must ensure it goes ahead, and that we begin to address these issues head on.”


Editor’s notes  

HS2 East is a partnership of councils, LEPs and Chambers of Commerce from the Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland that have come together to promote the delivery and benefits of HS2 Eastern Leg. The ‘HS2 East Economic Benefits’ report can be found at